25 December 2009

Altitude Graphs

After mentioning the detailed altitude graphs in the last post, Nathan Mawkes kindly sent these ones through. They are a bit rough, as they are based on the course map we made on Google Earth, but the are still very interesting and may help in planning your overnight stops. The total distance is an under-estimate.

Merry Christmas and happy trails,

22 December 2009

West Coast Section Pic's

Lady Lake

We were fortunate to have Coaster's Tony Coll and Mark Dawson check out the options for the West Coast section of the course. The conclusion in now on the Google map of the course (along with an updated run from Springfield through to the Wharfedale). Mark drove the route in the weekend to check the directions (we'll email the details of that out in January) and he sent through these pic's he took along the way. This is all between Stillwater and Jacksons. Looks like reasonably fast gravel roads (with some tarseal thrown down here and there).

BTW, Hamish Seaton is working on altitude graphs for the entire brevet course - I've seen the first one and it is looking very accurate. For the stretch from Blenheim to Picton his calculation is a total of 1511m climbing, and a distance of 66 km. The distance is 13% longer that Google's estimate. We always new the Google Maps estimate would be a bit low, but it's still surprising to see it may be out by that much. Don't be surprised if the grand total comes out a bit over 1200 km after all.

Blair Rd

Bell Hill Rd

Kotuku Bell Hill Rd

18 December 2009

Which Tyres?

There's been a bit of discussion about which tyres to use for the Brevet. The key things to look for are light-weight, low rolling resistance, reasonable durability, and the ability to be run at really low pressures (which means going for a tyre with reasonable volume). For me, that leads to the Stans Crow and NoTubes sealant. I used them at the Great Divide Race and never had a single puncture. After buying some tyres & sealant the other day, the importers said they'd be happy to offer the brevet riders a special deal. Here it is:

"NoTubes offer all riders on the Kiwi Brevet starters list the opportunity to purchase NoTubes products at a 25% discount from RRP. To purchase contact Mike at The Bike Hutt (Upper Hutt), Jonty at Revolution Cycles (Wellington) or contact the New Zealand NoTubes distributor Cycletech (info@cycletech.co.nz) to find a NoTubes dealer near you. Discount offer valid through to the start of the event."

16 December 2009

Entry Cut-off and Course update

Entries have slowed to a trickle and we need to make some hard decisions about where we get the SPOT trackers from, so we'll put a stake in the ground and say - Entries will close on the 6th January 2010.

The NZ source for SPOT trackers is only able to supply 10 and the original US source can't supply any. Australian options seem to be limited to a maximum of 25, so we're getting a quote from a big US supplier. It may be a little more expensive then we had hoped. We'll let you all know asap (and then be asking for people to stump up with the hireage fee, asap as well). If you want to know more about these beasties (for packing purposes it will need to be near the top of one of your bags so it can see satellites) check out this site

The course really is now 99% finalised. Check out the map here
In particular, have a look at the west Coast section. In order to avoid some private land we've changed the route to the east side of the Lake Brunner/Moana area. Also, we've added in a scenic detour south of Richmond. The only small section I can see that we're likely to change is the Springfield to Sheffield stretch (to get off the main highway earlier).

I'm slowly putting together a spreadsheet of directions which we'll pass around in the New Year. This isn't essential. You could navigate your way with a mix of 1:250,000 and 1:50,000 maps, Classic NZ MTB Ride directions and the 'Directions' feature off GoogleMaps. The trick is knowing where you need what - if you take the lot you'll need an extra pannier! I'll put together a list of recommended maps and send that out with the spreadsheet. Luckily the new series of topomaps just released are much cheaper than the old ones.

14 December 2009

How are you going to carry your load?

With so little walking in this event, it makes a lot of sense to have the bike carry most of your load. I'm hoping to get by with just a small camelbak and some stuff in my pockets on my back (everything else in bags on the bike). If you want a bike rack and have been struggling to work out how to put a conventional one on your bike, this should be of interest to you.

Freeload - the Dunedin designers of fancy, lightweight, bolt-onto-any-type-of-bike, carriers have managed to get their manufacturers to make a few more racks in their first batch, which will arrive by the end of the first week of January 2010. People who order them will receive them within 2-3 days, giving them 2-3 weeks of testing/trialling loads etc before the brevet.
They should have between 20 and 30 racks available to buy, on a first-in first-served basis. They will only be available to Kiwi Brevet riders, and be at our launch special price of $120 NZD for one rack or $200 for two, including shipping and GST.

Check the racks out at www.freeload.co.nz
Rather than ordering through the website, if people should order by email directly to tim@freeload.co.nz (that way he'll know you are a brevet rider).

06 December 2009

Quick Update

With another three Aussies just signing up, we have 65 starters for the Brevet (including 8 women). So, I'm off to Orb tomorrow to see if they can supply a big pile of SPOT trackers. Maybe we can push the numbers up to 80?

With some help from the locals, we're slowly nutting out the last few sections of the course. If you look closely at the Google map on the first post on this blog you'll see we've tweaked the Blenheim section. Will sort out the Nelson section this week (and hopefully confirm the access situation with the Lake Brunner/Moana leg, too).

If you haven't read the previous posts, please do so - there's a bunch of useful info packed in there.

Happy trails,

02 November 2009

Starting a Start List

Howdy all,

I'm starting to think about where we source the SPOT trackers from. There are 20 readily available in NZ (if booked at least a month out, cost is $65 per week). If we need more than that I need to look offshore (turns out that Scott Morris from Bikepacking.net and Matthew Lee from Tour divide have some demonstration units - might be cheaper).

The upshot is that I'd like to get a feel for how many riders will be starting.

As an incentive to get your name on the start list, we'll dish the cheapest SPOT trackers out to the first people to notify us of their intention to start.
Also, given the total number of SPOT trackers available is limited, we might have to cap the event at about 50 riders this first time (not that we're expecting that many fools!).
One other thought, if you're under 18 years, probably best to wait a year or two. You'll enjoy it more when you're arse is starting to get hard and crusty.

Please email simon at kennett dot co dot nz if you are likely to be lining up in Blenheim on the 6th of Feb.

There's no entry fee, but you will be expected to sign a waiver (and have a SPOT tracker) before entering the private land north of Lees Valley, and pay your share of the SPOT hire (or turn up with one of your own).

I'll add to this list as we go. So far we have:

John Randal
Jonty Ritchie
Laurence Mote
Guy Wynn-Williams
Mike Thompson
Mike Anderson
Dave Rudge
Trevor Woodward
Barryn Westfield
Rob Garden
Thomas Lindup
John Morris
Jasper van der Lingen
Simon Kennett
(As of 3rd Nov)
Claude Dabaliz
Barry Bryant
Chris Gilbertson
(As of 4th Nov)
Willi Borst
Andy Reid
Gordon MacDonald
David King
(As of 6th Nov)
Ross Friedrich
Chris Charles
(names above, as of 8th Nov)
Ed McDonald
Joel McFarlane Roberts
(as of 9th Nov)
Ash Brown
Nick Treadgold
Brenda Clapp
Chris Burr
Jo Holden
(as of 11th Nov)
Chris Sherwood
Mark Rayward
Tony Bateup
Lisa Savage
Peter Maindonald
(as of 15th Nov)
Mondo Kopua
(as of 17th Nov)
Oliver Whalley
Mark Hearfield
Bill Brierley
(as of 18th Nov)
Matt Gerstenberger
Shelley Gosse
Andrew McLellan
Micki Speck
(as of 24 Nov)
Nathan Mawkes
Jeff Lyall
John Mote
(as of 29 Nov)
Ian Gordon
Scott McLachlan
Phil Byron
Pat Hogan
(as of 6 Dec)
Marquita Gelderman
James Dick
Phil White
Anne Mortimer
Dirk Naish
Helen Van Hoof
David Bailey
(as of 24th Dec)
Jan Witkowski
Brett Porter
Tina Bayer
Tim Mulliner
Rodney Hansen
Charlotte Ireland
(as of 6th Jan)
Chris Tennent Brown
Jakub Postrzygacz
Darren Tatom

NB: Total of 65 names (incl 10 women).

28 October 2009

Services List

Planning and enjoying your ride is going to depend a lot on wise use of the services along the way. So here's the start of a list of them. What you still need to find out is when they open & close, what they offer (and at what cost), and if bookings are required.

Chances are that you'll get to a small town just after closing time at some stage in your ride. If you are in tour mode (riding well within your limits) you might have the energy necessary to push on to the next town. But if you plan to ride into the small hours, you'll want to have a sleeping bag and spare rations tucked away.

Please let us know if there are services en route that are missing from the list.
If you want the contact details for these businesses a google search, or call to the local info centre or 018 directory should do the trick.
Note that most towns also have a service station.

I'm not sure how cutting and pasting an Excel file is going to work - it looks great before I press post (which makes me very nervous). If it's crap, email me and I'll send you the file.

Distance Location Services
0 km Blenheim all
Waikawa dairy
58 Picton food, accom
Momorangi cafe
Linkwater service station
89 Havelock food, accom
Canvastown hotel
Pelorus Bridge cafe
143 Nelson all
Stoke all, ex hospital
Richmond all, ex hospital
Brightwater food
Wakefield food
233 St Arnaud food, accom
297 Murchison food, accom, hospital
Maruia cafe, accom
373 Springs Junction cafe, accom
416 Reefton all
Big River hut
491 Blackball hotel, accom
553 Jacksons hotel
Otira hotel
588 Arthurs Pass food, accom
Bealy hotel
Flock Hill station food, accom
Springfield food, accom
679 Sheffield food
Wharfedale hut
Hurunui hotel
Culverden shops, hotel
859 Hanmer Springs all, ex hospital
Awatere Valley B&B
1064 km Blenheim all

10 October 2009

Some Useful Links, a budget, & a Schedule

So, in the interests of seeing 100% of starters actually finish, here's some info you might find handy.

The Great Divide race
David Blaines GDR blog
The Tour Divide site
Bike Packing
Rough Stuff Fellowship

Warning! There's some really interesting reading in those links - take care not to let it get in the way of your riding!

If you are thinking about a budget for the Brevet, you first need to work out what gear you will take. After looking at the links above, Googling 'great divide gear list' will give you more to think about. Or you can look for the gear list on my Great Divide Kiwi blog. I'll probably carry a very similar load of gear (minus the overmitts, booties, anti-biotics, sun umbrella, and shower caps).

Once you have your gear sorted, what will the event cost you to complete? Here's my estimate:

Travel to the start/finish - $100
Accomodation (six nights in a backpackers) - $180
Extra Food than normal - $200 (plus normal expenditure)
Bike repairs/replacements (tyres, chain, brake pads, etc) - $350
SPOT nav-tracker hire - $65
Koha - $50
Misc (anit-flammes, sunblock, batteries, etc) - $100

Total - roughly $1045

Next up I was having a think about an 8-Day Finishers schedule - what're the minimum distances to aim for each day? Something like this perhaps:

Sat (noon start) - Blenheim to Havelock - 90 km
Sun - On to St Arnaud - 144 km
Mon - On to Springs Junction - 140 km
Tues - On to Jacksons - 180 km
Wed - On to Wharfedale/Townsend Hut - 156 km
Thurs - Thru to Hanmer - 150 km
Fri - Rest area at Hodder River - 135 km
Sat - Finish in Blenheim - 70 km

Since the eight day time limit actually kicks in at noon on the Sunday, this leaves a half day spare incase of delays required for bike repairs or bad weather. It's interesting to see that you could stay under a roof at the end of every day except for the night by the Hodder River.

The distances are estimates based on Google Maps and Classic NZ MTB Rides. They might be a tad on the short side for some legs. They come to a grand total of 1065 km.

28 September 2009

Some photos from the route

Here' a few pics from places along the route - some old some new:

The first half of this Super8 silent film from 1986 shows the first bit of downhill on the Port Underwood road. (The second part shows the excellent single track above Whites Bay.)

 Old-school: Simon on Maungatapu Saddle heading down towards Nelson.

Porika Track - overlooking Lake Rotoroa.

Maruia Saddle public road.

The Braeburn track.

Paul on the Warfedale.

A classic old cycle touring photo - river crossing in Lees Valley.

27 September 2009

Short-cut confirmed, and the question of Sleep

Just got of the phone with the Patersons who run the farm north of Lees valley - we have a green light to pass through their property. This is excellent news - the alternative would have been to stay on public roads (some of them busy) and gone the long way round the south side of Mt Grey. We won't know the finer details of this short-cut for a while (the Topomap is incorrect, so we'll need local man Ben Kepes to check it out for us) but I can tell you it will be about 60 km of gravel road and some farm track between Lees Pass and Hurunui.

While out riding last Saturday morning, my friend Andrew and I were caught up to by a guy called Brad. It was about 9:30am and he'd been riding since 4am (and still had about 100 km to ride to get home). We rode together for a bit and chatted about ultracycling. He'd come second in the Taupo Audax a couple of times and was interested in doing the Race Across America. He mentioned a couple of people had died in that race recently.

It got me thinking about safety a bit more seriously. Roughly 15% of New Zealand's road toll is attributed to fatigue-related accidents. People drift off ever-so briefly and then veer off the road or into an oncoming vehicle. The Ministry of Transport is currently considering adopting a European law which forbids driving if you've been awake for more than 24 hours.

Ultracycling usually doesn't require any amount of sleep, although Adventure races sometimes deny access to dangerous sections of a course after dark. The Kiwi Brevet is different from a normal brevet in that there will be some very long stints between towns and some very rough tracks where navigation is tricky; and it's different from the Great Divide races in that 50% of the course is on sealed roads shared with New Zealand's driving public (so you'll need your wits about you). It's different from RAAM in that there will be no support crew driving behind to pick you up if you fall off your bike. And...the Kiwi Brevet is NOT a race.

All this considered, and after much discussion with riders likely to do the event, we've decided to introduce a new rule:

"Between noon one day and noon the next, every rider must spend at least one block of at least four hours not travelling. That is, the maximum time any rider may spend travelling along the course will be 20 hours (between each noon-to-noon period)."

This can be monitored by reviewing riders' SPOT navigational tracking device.
We're not suggesting you limit yourself to four hours sleep per day. You'll surely enjoy yourself more if you sleep closer to eight hours. But you might decide to get a really early start on one day (and catch up on sleep another). Anyway, as with all the rules at this stage, it's just a draft. We'd love your feedback.

23 September 2009

Training or Practicing?

By now, anybody thinking of doing the Kiwi Brevet will be thinking about preparation. What do you need to do to complete 1200 km of all terrain in less than 8 days?

If you look at long events - ranging from a double century to a Great Divide style race - there are a few common things that can ruin your ride.

1 - Have a reliable bike.
Be prepared to fix multiple punctures, a slashed sidewall, a broken chain, a buckled wheel, wornout brake pads, etc.
Don't start with untested gear, or worn rims or chainrings, etc

2 - Be fit enough to comfortable do a hilly century by yourself, preferably with a good chunk of gravel road included. If you can do something like Round Taupo in less than 6 hours, and have reasonable MTB skills, you are probably physically good to go.

3 - Don't get Sick.
This is a biggy. Avoid dodgy food and water. Try to keep you hands clean. Eat and drink plenty of the stuff you find easy to digest. Take some sort of water purification system.

4 - Don't crash your brains out!
Be familiar with how your loaded bike handles off-road. Ride within yourself, especially when you're feeling fatigued. Use bright clothing and lights when out there in low light conditions.

5 - Be prepared for extreme weather.
You'll need to be ready to fend off both hypothermia and hyperthermia. Temperatures may well range between zero and forty degrees C.

6 - Know where you're going.
Once you've worked how you're going to navigate, practice using your system. Most of the navigation on this course is fairly straight forward and can be done using a 1:250,000 Terrainmap (possibly supplimented by directions from Google Maps). However, the navigation in/out of Blenheim and Neslon might need a street map. And finding your way through the Maungatapu, Porika, Big River and Wharfdale sections will require the directions in Classic NZ MTB Rides and/or a 1:50,000 Topomap. Same goes for the Molesworth, but we'll be going in the opposite direction described in the guidebook. The sections west of Lake Brunner and north of Lees Valley have yet to be described accurately - the 1:50,000 Topomaps for those areas can not be trusted - we'll work out a cue sheet and email it out prior to the start.

If you want to know more about 'serious' training for long distance cycling, check out this site http://www.ultracycling.com/

Personally, I reckon you don't need to do massive miles to enjoy something like this. 15 hours riding in a big week is plenty. Try to get one really long ride done every couple of weeks and the usual 1-3 hour med-fast rides done every couple of days. What is 'really long'? Five hours by the end of October, building up to an 8-10 hour ride (or a tour with your Brevet gear) early in the new year. Then sharpen up with a bit of fast riding or racing, and remember to give yourself heaps of rest and recovery. Enjoy!

10 September 2009

Couple of rule revisions...

1 - Old Rule:
No outside support (deliveries only to public addresses, no support from friends along the way). Prior to the race you may only post supplies to post offices.

This now becomes:
No outside support (deliveries only to business addresses, no support from friends along the way). No posting stuff to anywhere (not even post offices) prior to the race.

In NZ we don't have small towns with only post offices but not shops, so this exception doesn't make sense - it just erodes the self-sufficiency ethos.

2 - Old Rule:
Cell phones OK, but must not be used to call for food or supplies (or any other assistance) to be delivered (except to a public address/business).

Rule Change:
This rule has been removed. Delivery of supplies is covered by the previous rule.

3 - New Rule:
If a rider leaves the course, they must return to the course where they left it, under their own steam.
If a rider takes a shortcut (or long-cut) they will incur a time penalty for the section they miss, equal to twice the slowest riding time taken for that section during this year's brevet.

As the route is new and detailed navigation cues are not available, riders will not be disqualified for missing a section of the course. The time of the slowest person will be determined by their spot tracker.

Feel free to post comments if you have any thoughts on these revisions.

04 September 2009

Kiwi Brevet - 6th February 2010

View Kiwi Brevet 2010 in a larger map
Note: Sections in red not fully finalised.

We are planning to run a Great Divide style event in the South Island - a 1200 km, mixed terrain, self-supported cycle tour with a reasonably challenging time cut-off. Here's a map and some notes on the event (below).

We are still working through land access issues, which may well be resolved by requiring every rider to carry a personal locator beacon, but we thought we'd go public now so that you all have time to sort out gear, leave, fitness, etc.

We'll set up a dedicated blog shortly and then get some serious discussion going then. In the meantime, if you have any burning questions or comments, fire away.

Proposed start date: noon, Sat 6th Feb 2010

(trying to get long days and good weather, but little holiday traffic).

Proposed course:

Start Blenheim, round Port Underwood road, Queen Charlotte Drive, Maungatapu
Track, backroads to St Arnaud, Porika Track to Lake Rotoroa, Braeburn Track
to Murchison, over Maruia Saddle backroads to Springs Junction, Rahu Saddle
to Reefton, Big River and Waiuta Tracks, then backroads to Blackball,
backroads to Jackson, over Arthurs Pass to Sheffield, Wharfedale Track, Lees
Valley to Hanmer via back roads (?), Molesworth Station, Taylors Pass and
then singletrack back to Blenhiem.

Approx 1200 km (note: our Google Map takes micro-shortcuts and
under-estimates the total distance).

Approx 50% sealed roads, 40% gravel roads, 6% 4WD, 4% singletrack

Proposed rules:

Do it all yourself, under your own steam.

Riders must carry all their own gear (i.e. no domistiques).

No outside support (deliveries only to public addresses, no support from friends along the way). Prior to the race you may only post supplies to post offices.

Follow 100% of the course.

Riders must carry a personal locator beacon, and agree to cover the cost of rescue in the event they need to be evacuated.

Times under 4 days will be recorded as 4 days, 0 hours. (We're not after an exercise in sleep deprivation).

Riders must finish in under 8 days.

Drafting is OK.

When on public roads, follow the Road Code.

Cell phones OK, but must not be used to call for food or supplies (or any other assistance) to be delivered (except to a public address/business).

Call-ins to be made from designated towns to an 0800 number.

In the event of Molesworth Station being closed to cyclists due to fire risk, riders are to proceed through the Rainbow Station and North Bank road.

No entry fee; no prizes. Some sort of koha will be requested for community charities along the route (yet to be determined).

Email your ideas to simon at kennett dot co dot nz or leave a comment here.

Cheers, Simon Kennett